How to Disconnect from Your Phone (For the First Time!)
Everywhere you look online you’re able to read about the benefits of conducting a “digital cleanse” or “phone fast” or whatever they’re calling it now. Basically, there’s more and more emphasis in the media on trying to spend a little less time staring at their phone screen and more time focusing on the big screen (better known as the “real world”).
I’ve considered trying to use my phone a little less often, but for most of us that’s easier said than done; Our phone is with us wherever we go, we’re always barraged by notifications for everything from texts to our mobile games, and let’s be honest, pulling out our phone is the best way to kill a little time in a waiting room or to avoid making small talk with the woman sitting next to you on the bus.
Trying to quit cold turkey has been proven not to work, and it may feel like too monolithic a task to even find a place to start. Well, worry not, I’m here for you, and I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to help you start spending at least a little less time on your phone and to help you jump-start your very own phone detox.
Let Your Apps (& Your Phone!) Help You.
One way to start to try and cut down on your screen time is learning just how much time you actually spend on your phone! There are a number of free apps in the marketplace, such as ActionDash for Android devices, that will keep track of how much time you spend on your phone, and it will also tell you what apps you’re wasting the most time on. It will also tell you how many notifications you receive every day, and you can even manage your notification settings directly from the app!
This app can also help you with managing the time you spend on your phone. If you find that you’re spending too much time on a specific app – maybe you get sucked into the black hole that is your Instagram or Twitter timeline, we’ve all been there – you can set a limit on how much time you will allow yourself to use this app each day. ActionDash is a great way of finding out which apps are the most distracting and it provides tools to help you curve your addiction.
There are also settings from your phone itself that are available to help you. Most smartphones are equipped with some sort of “Do Not Disturb” setting, where you are able to silence certain notifications while you’re trying to get your work done, and your important notifications like email or important text messages will still come through so you won’t miss that important memo from your boss or your sister’s text reminding you about your dinner plans.
Some phone types will come with even more sophisticated settings to help you manage your addiction. For example, some phones can save and label certain locations as your work or home, and you can play with your settings so that your phone silences annoying notifications or enters “Do Not Disturb” mode when you arrive at work for the day. Now might be a good time to take a more thorough look at your phone and see how it can help you manage those urges we have to check our phone every 20 seconds.
Hide Those Attention-Draining Apps!
Along with managing which notifications are important for you to receive and which ones are a complete nuisance, it might be useful to make some of the apps that you waste the most time on less visually accessible. If you use a social media widget to get a preview of the latest posts from those that you follow, it might be wise to ditch the widget in order to decrease the urge to see what other updates are on your timeline.
In that same vein, one way to spend less time on social media apps is not necessary to delete every single social media app from your phone (because that’s not always realistic), but you can remove these apps from your home screen, or move them into a folder, to deny yourself the visual prompt to check your social media.
While I said that deleting all social media apps isn’t usually the best method, you might want to consider deleting at least a few of these apps and dedicating yourself to only checking those sites on your computer or tablet. One app that most people find the most painless social media app to delete is the Facebook app because it’s not always as functional as the desktop site, so why waste time on the app at all?
Put the Phone Down! … For a Little While.
This is where the baby steps really begin, because now that we’ve made it a little more difficult and a little less tempting to waste your time on, now the actual detoxing can begin. But don’t be scared, let’s start off with simple baby steps.
Let’s say you’re at home and trying to get some work done on your computer. This is a time where you probably don’t spend much time on your phone anyway, so what’s the harm of turning it off for a little while? No, don’t just put it on silent or airplane mode, actually turn the dang thing off. Once that business is taken care of, move your phone into a totally different room from where you’re working. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll forget about your phone, and even when you’re off the computer for the night you won’t be running to retrieve it again.
It’s especially important to put the phone down at night. We’ve all heard about the many studies down that suggest that the blue light from your phone screen is making it more difficult for you to fall asleep and it can actually disrupt your sleep schedule in a big way. One of the best ways to become less reliant on your phone is to cease using it as your morning alarm clock and switch to a traditional clock radio instead, or there’s the time-honored trick of plugging in your phone and leaving it in a different room when you go to bed, so you’re forcing yourself to physically get up in order to turn off your alarm.